After running a trading store on the Gwelo/Shabani road for a while where my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Jarman bought a farm (Reflections) near the store.
My Grandmother Ashley Walker (a widow) came up to Rhodesia to join my Mother and Great Grandmother in Gwelo, where she met and married Aubrey Cullinan. My Grandfather Aubrey Cullinan was working as a manager of Hercania Farm. When the Bechuanaland Exploration Company sold off all the west Gwelo Block portion of Aberfoyle ranch, he bought two portions no 23 and 23A which were adjoining Hercania Farm.
After the death of my grandparents my mother, her 3 sisters and brother, inherited the farm. So, my mother was getting a regular income from the sales of the family herd of cattle.
In 2004the Zimbabwe Government disposed us of the farm when the Land Committee came and said “We are taking your farm! We are putting our Chief in your house and four other settlers on your farm. You 5 white farming families have 40 days to get out!!”
At least they gave us 40 days to get off the land and kill the family herd of 450 head of cattle. The cattle had to be slaughtered as the farm had been quarantined for “Foot & Mouth” and therefore could not be moved from farm to farm. We could only transport them to the local abattoir to be slaughtered for local consumption, not for exports.
Then to add insult to injury, the government Tax Department turned up and said “Oh! That’s sale of farm produce, you have to pay 55% Tax!” So, my mother’s final income from the farm (the value of 90 head of cattle) was only Fifty thousand Zimbabwe Dollars.
My mother was therefore rendered Destitute with no income at all as her widow’s pension had already been wiped out from Six Hundred and Thirty dollars a month to only 63 cents by the first devaluation of the Zimbabwe Currency by Gideon Gono.
I therefore had to support my mother on my meager Railway Salary of only Three hundred Zimbabwe dollars a month.
When Zimbabwe had its food crises from 2005 things were beyond tough. I personally lost almost half my body weight. I went from 205 pounds to 125 pounds and could fit into clothes that I had worn at school 30 years earlier.
Throughout the crisis basic food was available if you were prepared to get off your backside and do your legwork. At the height of the crises I was stopped in Athlon Ave, Northend, Bulawayo and was interviewed by Hannes Botha of the Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund who then put my mother on their distribution list.
Up until she passed in early 2017, the regular delivery of the food parcels and basic medicine for my mom we an absolute Godsend and were eagerly awaited by both my mother and myself. I am fortunate enough to still be on the list of recipients and continue to receive this much needed food supply as we once again face drastic challenges in Zimbabwe.
My Heartfelt gratitude to all those who have supported and assisted the ZPSF over the years.
Robert Lesley Hardman